Volume 93, Issue 10

Wednesday, September 15, 1999


West Side crackles with high energy

Royal Trux driven by independence

Ellis novel worth retrospect

Days, Moxy have big returns

Royal Trux driven by independence

Photo by Nine Gouveia
I SURE HOPE THESE BIORE STRIPS WORK LIKE THE COMMERCIALS PROMISED. Royal Trux duo Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema create their eighth garage rock album entitled Veterans of Disorder.

By Mark Pytlik

Gazette Staff

If, for some reason, the whole music thing doesn't work out, Neil Hagarty and Jennifer Herrema can probably count on successful careers as authors.

If their first book was called Rock Stardom For Dummies: An Idiot's Guide to Screwing Over Big Time Corporations, it'd probably end up as a bestseller. Indeed, when it comes to tactical manoeuvres in the battlefield of rock 'n roll, Hagarty and Herrema (better known as the core of American alternative rock duo Royal Trux), are bona fide war heroes.

The recent release of Veterans of Disorder, their eighth album, sees Royal Trux come full circle in many regards. After a much hyped stint with Virgin records in the mid '90s, the Trux have billed Veterans of Disorder as their return to a decidedly independent ethic. Although they're back on independent label Drag City, Hagarty regards the tumultuous years spent with Virgin as an overall victory for the band.

Part of what made the experience so beneficial is the admirable way in which the Trux expertly dealt with the sudden major label attention. "The more we ignored Virgin the more interested they became," he recalls. "They said they wanted to make us the new Rolling Stones so we sent them a list of contract demands that [included] things like a giant signing bonus and a huge budget of $500,000 per record."

Virgin, at the time desperate to acquire the services of the hugely influential duo, gladly met all but one of the band's incredibly lofty demands. "The only thing they wouldn't give us was a budget for Jennifer's money," Hagarty laughs. "We just shunted some money in that direction anyways."

When it came time to record the album, Hagarty notes the label's strategy had changed drastically. "They just wanted to get a producer in and have us front for their lame ass crap."

While Hagarty maintains the band wasn't surprised with Virgin's sudden change in plans, he seems slightly disconcerted by their willingness to part ways with the band. "I'm disappointed that they'd shovel so much money in our direction and not care about it," he muses. "But that kind of shows just how powerful corporations are."

Regardless, the charismatic singer doesn't lament the band's missed opportunity at true rock stardom. "I don't watch MTV at all," he shrugs disdainfully. "I never watch music television of any kind – it means nothing to me – so I'm kind of immune to the desire to be famous."

Hagarty seems to have no regrets about any of the band's time spent with Virgin. If anything, the experience gave the Trux the money and the impetus to start all over again. Aside from being a racous collection of alt-rock sing-a-longs, Veterans of Disorder is a reaction to their previous big budget major studio recordings. "When it came time to do the record we just tried to reverse that [ethic] entirely," says Hagarty. "What we ended up with is stuff that was very easy and natural for us to do. I guess in that sense we're exactly [back] where we started."

Only this time, they're a little bit richer and a lot wiser. Book publishers, take note.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999